Norway in need of foreign labour

The Norwegian economy has never been in better shape. While this is obviously good news, it’s also a problem: Norwegian companies do not have enough qualified personnel to handle high-tech applications and advanced Norwegian technology in order to keep pace with market growth. Norwegian businesses are eager to recruit skilled labour from all around the world. To meet these challenges, Norway Exports hosted the conference entitled “Foreign Labour – Recruiting and Integration”.

Norvald Heidel, Director International media

The 8th of November over 70 participants found their way to the Hotel Plaza in order to learn more about this subject. Norvald Heidel,the Director for International Media in Findexa Forlag, opened the conference by showing a report from the Norwegian national broadcasting network NRK that depicted what the situation was like when the first guest workers from Pakistan came to Norway. Many of the challenges that existed then are still prominent today. He gave statistics that showed that Norway has gone from being an undermanned industrial nation to an undermanned knowledge-based one.

Top Competence
The arranger of the conference, Norway Exports, gathered speakers with top competence in their fields. With speakers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UDI)the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Organisation (NAV), the Confederation of Norwegian Business and Industry (NHO), AdeccoOpera Software and the Oslo Chamber of Commerce the stage was set for a conference that had a high level of credibility professionally.
Among the themes that were focussed upon was about how to keep foreign workers after they have come to Norway. The first speaker, Reingert A. Lerivik, Project Director at NHO, gave a good talk which focused on what the current situation was for Norwegian industry and commerce. He showed numbers that indicated that nearly 40 percent of the company managers in Norway were of the opinion that the lack of qualified workers resulted in limited production.

Elysa Rambaud (Expat) and Norvald Heidel

Adecco Norge was next up and put the current problem into a larger perspective – the lack of competent workers was a global phenomenon and the need for them in Europe is growing. Madhukar Rohatgi from Adecco informed the audience about the growth of labour in India and pointed out things that made India an attractive country for finding recruits of IT employees. Adecco has a great deal of experience with the process of recruiting from abroad and the talk focused on the importance of integrating workers from abroad in to the company.

Personal Experience

We were given a good example of someone’s personal experience of moving to Norway by Elysa Rambaud, who moved here from France a little over a year ago. She told us a very interesting and informative story about how she experienced her first encounter with Norway. Many employers got something to think about when she shared her thoughts about Norway and Norwegian habits. “It isn’t enough to give a job applicant a job, a desk and a computer; it is completely essential to offer a complete support system for the whole family,” said Rambaud. “Things that are basic for Norwegians are not necessarily so for newly arrived workers. For many people small things like buying food and getting a ticket for the subway can be difficult.” Elysa is a member of International Network of Norway, which is a part of the Oslo Chamber of Commerce’s offer for employers that wish to give their new employees an adequate support system and follow up service.  

Anne C. Stavnes, Head of Administration and Culture at Opera Software, also spoke about this topic. She herself immigrated to Norway from the USA 20 years ago, and gave an open and personal talk about the experiences Opera has had. With 44 different nationalities working together in one place problems pop that could not have been conceived of before. She emphasized the importance of taking care of new employees, and shared her thoughts about how to do it in the best possible way.

Laws and Regulations

Anne C. Stavnes, Opera Software ASA

One of the central questions in the debate about how to recruit foreign workers revolves around laws and regulations. People in the business sector have previously hinted at the fact that regulations are too rigid and the process consumes too much time for hiring people outside of Norway.

Per Kristian Ljosveit, Senior Advisor at UDI, gave a good introduction to the rules and regulations that Norwegian companies have to relate to. The audience got to hear about the improvements UDI has made as far as handling cases and giving out information. The new employment centre at Tøyen is a key factor for shortening the time it takes to process applications. He also called on employers directly to be vigilant about fulfilling the requirements for information and documentation on working permit applications.

Who can be of help?
Many employers are not aware of the different forms of assistance that exist. There are a number of organizations that can aid in the task of recruiting from abroad. This was made clear by Berit Alfsen, EURES Manager in NAV. EURES is an binding network collaboration in Europe that acts as an intermediary between job seekers and employers.
Alfsen stressed that it is important that Norwegian employers are aware of the current situation, and that they work in a goal-oriented way and proactively with recruiting aimed abroad.

See the Whole Picture!

Ellen Nordberg and Linda Pettersen, both from Norway Exports

One of the main points that were clear after the conference was that it is important to see the whole picture. After success with recruiting an employee there is still a lot of work that remains so that the working relationship bears fruit. Numbers from a survey conducted by the Oslo Chamber of Commerce indicate that 60 percent of work immigrants that break their contracts do so because they are not happy. This can be avoided through the employer striving for arranging things as well as they can. Some good examples of simple things that can be done are to go with a new employee to a shop, take a trip through the local area and give information on health services as well as where a person can turn to when they need help for different things. In other words, offer a kind of sponsor arrangement.

Newly Opened Career Opportunities Portal
The conference was developed at the same time as the new career opportunities portal was launched. The portal was developed by Norway Exports and Nortrade and contains job advertisements directed only towards the market of foreign workers. In addition to the job advertisements job seekers will be able to find useful articles and news about how it is to work and live in Norway, and which support systems exist in order to make the process easier.